New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Showing newest 11 of 18 posts from June 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 11 of 18 posts from June 2010. Show older posts

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Old Fools Journal: My New Old Car or What a difference a motor makes.

I took a little ride over to my mechanics garage to pick up my motor car Monday. It was a nice ride. Here is an amateurish video of a small part of the ride. It was only eight miles but I really enjoyed it.

When I said picturesque I was referring to the wood frame building with a full size front porch. What business do you go to that has that.

Off course it turned into an all day affair because you don't do major surgery without some recovery period. One little problem with the air conditioner occurred before I left. I use propane in my AC because it's more efficient, safer and better for the environment but of course not accepted by big business in the USA so it is unserviceable by garages. No problem for me because I do my on AC work. The problem was immediately corrected and I drove away with cool air. If you think that was not nice then you haven't experienced a 90 degree day with 90 percent humidity in traffic.

I stayed within a few miles of the garage to do a little light shopping. On my way to the BIG hardware store I discovered an old time hardware store I didn't know about where they not only knew what oxalic acid was but had it on the shelf and cheap too. Then off to the wine and bread store. Things went sour there as the battery was too low to restart. I called the garage and within ten minutes I was rescued and back to the shop we went.

While drinking a lot of water another plug that was unplugged while fixing the last problem then overlooked was found. Plugged in and everything was fine so off I went. New life in the old machine, how nice. Two days and 50 miles later, so far so good.

I have so little regard of motoring these days I wasn't going to bring it up but I decided that if there is even one reader left hanging then that is unfair. So there you have it.

Now I can get back to the new old bike. A subject I would really rather talk about. More about that tomorrow. Meanwhile think about whether you think lizards make good lubricant for the bottom bracket.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Some Favorite Foods

My favorite meal is Pizza. Any kind will do. it combines bread, sauce and whatever you have much like a sandwich does. I like them with anything and everything on them. My favorite food however is Mexican. Not Spanish or Mexico City Mexican but country working people Mexican. It can be as complex or as simple as you want. I like to cook Mexican and I do it rather well for my taste. This is sustenance at its simplest.
This quick meal is a corn tortilla fried in oil then salted. The black on this one means I over fried this one but that's what I wanted. I wanted it crispy and crackly. I don't know why I crave the carbon. I spead a layer of refried frilloles (mashed pinto beans heated in a skillet with lard) that had been premixed with pickled chopped jalapenos and a little cheese. I quite often stop right there and begin to eat because it is delicious.
Today I already had sliced homegrown tomatoes, sliced avocado, sliced sweet red onions some romaine pieces already on a plate in the refrigerator so why not pile it on. but first I added a big spoon of salsa right in the middle and sprinkled the whole thing liberally with cayenne.
I like these romaine ends because they are so crunchy and often eat them with salt in the summer. I put them on this "Tostada" more as a lid so I could eat this like a sandwich without digging my fingers into the avocado, tomato and beans. That way I don't have a messy fingernail cleaning job when I finish. Watching me eat one of these is not a pretty sight. A thorough mustache cleaning is required right after.

Corn tortillas and beans provide a complete protein I am told but I don't care as I eat it for taste. Essential fats are provided along with a portion of vegetables and no animals were harmed in the making of this quick lunch.

There are always corn tortillas in the refrigerator here and usually flour as well. SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) likes the flour better but I don't think that flour tortillas have the flavor and class of leavened bread. Besides that I believe the white man introduced wheat flour to a people that had plenty of corn so they would become dependent.

Corn tortillas are cheap and keep well. They travel well. Years ago when I traveled a lot a bag of tortilla chips and a can of bean dip was my dinner many a night. Eaten cold it taste good, was good for me, filling and satisfying. I never felt deprived.

Downside: I'm known as Old Fart around here not Old Fool.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Bag Rock

Rock and Roll on the pipes and why not.

I've always wanted to play the pipes but the last time I tried I couldn't even blow up the bag. I was in my thirties then and in excellent shape. I know I couldn't do it now. Pity.

The bagpipe is the only musical instrument I know of that can bring the hardest heart to tears and yet has been used as a fearsome weapon of war scattering grown men before it like leaves in the wind.

I imagine in the beginning at the "The Big Bang" that it sounded like the big drums of the native Americans accompanied by the bagpipes and I imagine that the end will sound the same.

Wearing a kilt
at the
end of time

Friday, June 25, 2010

Old Fools Journal: The Bug or Get Me Out of Here This Suit Is Too Tight

The Bug expert here says this is a June bug but I think it is a Cicada. It was on the ground with the ants so it was placed on the screen.
Great green bug colors and it pulsates.
Sorry about the shaky pictures.
Almost out. This is probably when the birds really like them.
Another crappy pic but at least it gives scale. The spray can is a 12 oz. I should have used my tripod. I'm too shaky to take pics free hand.

I keep thinking I'm receiving telepathic brain waves saying "take me to your leader".

Next morning the alien was gone leaving the capsule behind.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Decisions, Decisions or how to develop and increase your stress level to the extreme

This past Friday when I was out and about using my weekly one gallon of gas allotment in this motor vehicle that I have owned for 8 ½ years the ticking sound coming from the engine room suddenly became a rather loud annoying knock. It finally got loud enough that I could not drown it out with the radio volume control that being how I fix rattles, squeaks and knocks.
Having enough money to not have to work on automobiles I decided Monday to take it to my master guru of mechanicdom Kim Smith at Carsmiths and get a prognosis. Kim does not actually work on my auto as he has a nimble fingered competent young man that knows this Ford jalopy as well as I do that does the work and does a fine job. Loading my trusty Schwinn on the back off I went. Leaving the pollution machine there I rode back home (only 8 or so miles) picking up some sourdough bread and a gallon of water (forgot my water bottle) at the store on the way.
Cruising along the back streets of Houma, La in 96 degree heat was pleasant and as long as I kept moving the 85 percent humidity was hardly noticeable. I found all sorts of stuff. None of it valuable.
I do wonder about the stuff I find. Like where is the knife that goes with the sheath? Did the person that threw the sheath throw the knife too? And which went first? What about the 12volt power plug? It says 3g iphone on it and I looked all around but did not find an iphone. Wherever it is it probably still has the missing plug from the wire still in it.The bolts, chain hook and other assorted stuff just fell out of trucks and cars. I sometimes wonder how much stuff can fall off a vehicle before it will no longer go.  I have found many mufflers, hubcaps and such but once I found a drive shaft.  How do you continue without that? The most valuable thing here is the wheel weight. It's hard lead containing tin and antimony. Makes excellent musket balls.

So yesterday I decided to do a little yard work starting with mowing some of the grass around the garden. SWMBO (She who must be obeyed) doesn't like the way I do it so I just do it to hear her complain. When I don't do it she complains too so I usually go that route as it is not near as sweaty but this day I felt in the need of a little exercise. I mow until my chest hurts or until the sweat starts running into my eyes whichever comes first. It only took about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile my grandson managed to twist the end of the AC adapter for his laptop until it no longer works. Since I'm the only one here that fixes this sort of thing he used it as an excuse to talk to me. He already did two of them on my Dell laptop but this is on his. I haven't got a clue what he does in his dark room besides make trash but it somehow involves going around and around the adapter cord until it makes sparks.
He left me with nothing to work with but I peeled some of the cover off the plug and got enough wire out to make a connection. That black stuff on the wire in the middle is Liquid Tape. Great stuff.
I added a little reinforcement not that will slow a really big 17 old boy down. He has it plugged in and can now go back to playing online video games and watching porn.

The Prognosis
There is something really wrong deep in the innards of the engine and the cost to tear it down to find out what it is is prohibitive but a used engine has been located in the local area that only has 114,000 miles on it. That's about the mileage this one had when I bought it in 2001. I don't know what my mileage is now as the speedometer broke at 186,000 miles about five years ago. I took the night to sleep on my options, have bad dreams and otherwise fret about the best way to go.

Should I junk it out? I'd get less than the value of the gas in the tank not to mention the new battery I put in a few months back.
Should I part it out? I have enough room to park it and I know how to use Craigslist and eBay. If I did that I would need to decide whether to get another car or not. Since there is no public transportation within six miles, no sidewalks or paths and a taxi has to come out from town being without a car is like being on the county farm (jail). My bike takes care of most of my needs but there would be no more going to the thrift store, the airport, the odd trip for garden needs or to pick up Her Highness the Princess. Not to mention rescueing SWMBO when she breaks down in her 1993 ford pickup truck. Unacceptable.

So shop for a car I did, Online. For about four times the price of putting in the used engine I can get a vehicle that is about to break all the things I have just fixed on this one.
In the interest of keeping with my penchant to fix things instead of replacing I have decided to keep it and put in the engine. Besides this car is only 23 years old so it's nearly new.
With the amount I drive this car should last until I die, lose my license or get crashed into by some drunk trying to send a text message.

Now that that decision is made I can go back to worrying about even more trivial matters like oil disasters, pin brained politicos and lunch.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Old Fools Journal: So Here It Is Fathers Day or another contrived holiday to sell stuff.

There was no such thing as fathers day until 1972 and I was 33 years old at the time. I didn't know there was anything special about being a father. Your either were one or not. So now we honor all fathers? There are many that should be whipped and many that are heroes. Lets not lump them together.

My biological father could care less about me and I don't really care. What I have found out about him does not make me long to have been in his care. My stepfather, on the other hand, was a very real role model. Guess which one I try to be like.

I have tried but I know that I have fallen short of being a good father or a good stepfather so now I concentrate on being a good grandfather. I don't think I'm doing to well at that either but I will keep trying.

This guy was a good father but better than that he was my friend.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Old Fools Journal: My New Old Bike

The bike that followed me home last week is getting a clean up. It appears that someone had a problem with the seat post sometime in the past as it was apparently broken off or cut off and then had the crap beat out of it. As you can see here I have my delicate seat tube removal tool (18 inch pipe wrench) employed but even it would not budge that tube and that was after a night of soaking in Liquid Wrench penetrating oil.

So I got the 10 inch pipe wrench that I had foolishly thought originally would do the job out again slipped a 24 inch long galvanized iron pipe over it and approached it with an attitude. Now I may be old but I'm still a pretty stout old and I laid my big butt into it. That thing came lose with a sound like a gun going off. Even with that it was another 20 minutes working it back and forth to get it out.
I don't think it will ever be a seat post again. Oh well into the scrape box. I might need it someday for something else. I have three other seat post this size, all rusty and too long but I have time and patience. I also have a bench mounted cut off wheel that I used just last week to cut its own electrical cord. Oops. Oh well I like sparks and smoke. This is my high tech? method of cleaning up a seat tube. It is a belt sanders sandpaper loop that the glue let go on in this climate, straightened out and rolled it into a tube. It's quite long and stiff so really gets down into the tube without any reinforcement.

The tires are 1⅜ available at the local hardware store and I probably should replace these. The casing is still good and they have good tread but the rubber on the side wall has rotted away. I can't even read the brand but since the tubes, which are in excellent new condition, were made in Taiwan the tires probably were too. It's been a long time since I have seen tires and tubes from Formosa. Everything comes from Red China now.

The rims are double walled steel and have some rust but as you can see from the picture are cleaning up pretty good and they are straight. #000 steel wool does wonders on the rim and a coarse bronze pad cleans the spokes pretty well. I may replace some spokes but I've ridden on worse. Not having a death wish I may not be riding all that much anyway. I'll get back to you on that.

I took a tire pump with me when I picked the bike up but I didn't need it as the tires still had air, really old air.
This is a well made bike and in good enough shape that I'm not going to repaint it except for the fenders. They were chromed or what passes for chrome and I don't think I can recover them short of striping and painting. We'll see.

This bicycle is a Free Spirit a brand that was carried by Sears and Roebuck & Co back when there was a Roebuck. Now that's all Kmart. I have another Free Spirit slated for restoration that is a single speed with a Bendix coaster brake. It was another freebie also without a seat. I put a seat on it, aired the tires and rode it. So did SWMBO and we declared it good. Both these bikes are in the English Raleigh upright style with 26x1⅜ tires.

Free Spirits seem to come my way and about 6 or 7 years ago I picked up a Free Spirit road bike with 27 inch wheels and a frame so tall I had to use a stool to get on it. It was in perfect condition almost like new. I kept it around for a few years then got tired of working around it. I couldn't even give it away so I sawed it up and made a shop stool and a truing stand out of it. some of the parts went into various projects and some are still waiting to be used.

It's nice to have a project, especially one that you really like.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Houma, Where's That?

That's what I said in a road side rest area in Oklahoma in 1993 to the driver of one of these trucks. SWMBO and I were driving for a trucking company out of Memphis, Tennessee and had pulled in for a little rest. I saw this Corvette yellow truck and just had to know where it was from so I went over and took a look. It said Texas on the door but when I ask the driver where in Texas exactly and were they hiring. He told me Texas was for business purposes, the actual location was Houma, Louisiana and they were always hiring. A month or so later we had a brand new yellow truck and we knew where Houma was. We put 530,000 miles on that truck hauling produce, sugar and paper. We put about 400,000 miles on the Peterbilt in the picture above.
That job disappeared after about seven years and SWMBO told me to go to the airport and get any old job and I'd be flying again in no time. She was right and she is not bashful about letting me know it. This was my new office. I was in the oil business as a pipeline aerial inspector. Lots of flying and way too much paperwork. These people were still FAXing.
That's how I took these pics of Houma. I was on my way home when I took this and the following picture. That twin span bridge didn't exist when we moved here but instead had a lift bridge. It is just down the bayou (¼ mile) from the center of Houma. At the very left side of the picture under the bridge there is a public marina and a little park. It is five mile from my garden by bicycle. The bridge crosses the Inter coastal Canal.
If you squint down real hard you can see my bus about five mile north northeast. Downtown Houma is just in front of the strut in the left side of the picture. The leading edge of the strut is that black line. It is an old town with a big cemetery right downtown. The real business district has moved north of town and the only thing downtown is the hospital, post office, court house and hundreds of personal injury lawyers drawn here because of the oil business like flies to stink.
This the marina under the bridge and my faithful Schwinn.
Inside my office. I was in the oil business and it was a love/hate relationship. On the one hand I loved flying and on the other I immensely disliked the oil industry that had been raping the environment since its inception. On the one hand I was a watchdog that could shut them down with a single phone call and on the other I helped maximize their profits. I do know that the oil companies care for only one thing and that is maximum profit. The law says that they must visually inspect their wells, pipelines, refineries and storage facilities every 21 days. There are hefty fines if they don't have it documented and have someone to blame. In the USA, litigation being what it is, spills and leaks do not maximize profit. In the USA it's cheaper to avoid pollution. In Nigeria it's cheaper to pay off the village headman and not worry about how much oil is spilled or that it's killing the land and the people.

Finding oil, producing oil and piping oil are different divisions and aren't really all that connected. Finding oil has it own problems as we know from recent events. Producing oil has another set of problems that are similar but have the problem of maintenance because of longevity. Pipe-lining is moving the oil and it has nothing to do with finding or production. I have to say that it is the only part I could ever have been a part of. I found that the pipeliners from the top to the bottom were the most conscientious group of people I have ever met. They were intensely aware of the environment and that they and their children had to live in what ever mess was made. They are paid well and they can go to jail for negligence or falsifying records but in my opinion that is not what drives these professionals. They are motivated by pride and peer pressure. To be complimented by another pipeliner for your work is a reward indeed.

My job was to fly over the pipelines, storage facilities and refineries at low level and report leaks and problems before they happened. It's intense and it's boring, It requires a lot of multi-tasking and if you have paid attention to these writings you know what I think of that. Just flying the airplane is job enough but add low level, looking for birds, looking for towers, talking on the radio, talking on the phone, navigating, writing notes and then trying to guess what that guy with the backhoe on the right-of -way is doing is busy work. Then there is what's that noise, is the engine missing, can I land on the right-of-way if it quits and what's that smell. Stress is the pipeline pilots constant companion and sits in his black robe right in front with you holding his knife to your throat.

The upside is being eye to eye with an eagle as he/she sizes you up, watching red tailed hawks do their work, groups of wild turkeys on the ground or a half dozen javelinas, seeing close up the immense power of thunderstorms, flying around the tops of clouds when deadheading and the occasional day when you do everything right.

The location of Houma, La. is Latitude = 29.5958, Longitude = -90.7195.
The BP oil disaster command center is located in Schriever, Louisiana, a tiny little town located 10.8 miles by bicycle from my house. Schriever is small enough that the news media always refers to it by describing its location as "near Houma" as if anyone knows where that is. Schriever has an Amtrac station and the train will stop for you if you call and buy a ticket. When the wind is right I can hear the train whistles from the garden.

Houma claims 96,000 people of which probably 90,000 work in the oil or oil related business. Close down the oil business today and weeds will be growing downtown tomorrow and that would not be a bad thing. I live in Bayou Blue and that's even smaller than Schriever and in a different parish (county).

Now that I've got that off my chest I'm going to have some fresh asparagus from the garden with butter, some sauteed fish for lunch and a nap then it's into the shed to do a little more work on the bicycle that followed me home. That is a subject I find much more enjoyable and satisfying.More about this in a later post. Looks like fun doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Spend Little Live Rich

When I arose this morning I could see that it was going to be a good and positive day. The flats I had fixed in my dreams at the end of my sleep all were successful, my ankles didn't hurt when my feet hit the floor and I didn't have my usual morning backache. Oh yes a good day indeed.
My plan was to clean up this bowl that was named my "collection plate" by my friend Mickie.

So I decided that I needed to use the electrolytic process using baking soda, salt, aluminum foil and hot water. First I need a big pot. SWMBO's (she who must be obeyed) crab pot is just right and after all thanks to BP she may never need it again.Ah, perfect fit. Onward.
Since I wanted hot water I put the pot on the stove and put enough water in it to cover the plate and turned up the heat.
What's that sizzling noise? Why does the top of the cook stove look like the bottom of the sink?
Houston we have a problem! I whisked it outside stumbling over the dogs and determined that since the last time we had crab and today we had developed a small water spill. No problem there is a plan for such an event. So I gathered my team (3 dogs, 4 turtles and me the CEO. The cats have deserted because I think they saw this event coming) and we consulted the plan. After consultation it was decided that we would put junk on the hole and stop the leak. After trying different kinds of junk on the outside that did not work I went to the old standby for all leaks, Monkey Pucky. That's not it's real name, just what we call it.

It's really Plumber's Putty. I fixed a leaky tin roof in Mexico with it once and I'll bet it still does not leak.Take a little piece.
Flatten it.Stick it on the hole. It doesn't like to stick to wet but by pushing it hard enough to squeeze some through the hole it slowed the leak to a reasonable level.
The magic of science fills me with wonder. The yellow highlights are reflections of the indoor lights that were all on because of the massive thunderstorm playing around outside. It was really dark at midday.
This collection plate is made by Sheridan Silverplate, inc and has all the marks on the back. Cost 25 cents at the thrift store. I picked it up because it was the prefect size for cleaning bike parts even the chain. I'll bet I'm the only bicycle repairman that use a silver plated bowl to clean bike chain.

The only downside today was during lunch (black eyed peas with local green onion sausage, sourdough bread, home grown tomatoes and sweet onion) I made the mistake of turning on the TV to see how long the torrential downpour was going to last. I didn't find that but C-Span had a game show that was pretty pathetic. On one side there were a bunch of old white men in expensive suits who weren't very bright but seemed to think they were all movie stars. I think they were congressmen. On the other side there were a bunch of zombies, all white men in what appeared to be over sized off the rack suits. I think they were the oil moguls dressing down for the occasion. The one side ask dumb questions after making a lot of time consuming remarks all calculated to maximize camera time (the movie stars) and the other side gave dumb evasive answers in dull lifeless monotone (zombie oil moguls). There was no chase scene so I took a nap in which I did not have to fix any flats. All I remember was a light kiss on the lips. How nice.

Now I'm off to have wine in the garden with my bride. I think I'll wear my purple and black plaid kilt since it's freshly washed and ironed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Crawfish Boil or Piles of Hot Spicy Mudbugs On Your Plate

Friday I was invited to a crawfish boil at the airport so not being one to turn down free food, the opportunity to see a couple of friends and the chance of not being invited again I went. This the same place featured here.

To the uninitiated they are not very appetizing.

Especially in mass but they are hot and spicy and once you get the hang of it easy to eat. There is, however, no way it's not messy especially for a man (or woman) with a mustache.
Some people never get over the fact that you are eating that critters insides including whatever it ate. In short guts and all.

My friend Missy is holding one of these little varmints here and in the video below stars in a presentation demonstrating how to eat mud bugs. Most men I have seen in no way are this graceful and precise. She makes it look easy and actually it is. I just have a nack for getting it all over me as soon as I touch one. She makes "sucking the head" look good.
Please excuse the noise but it is after all in an open hanger at the airport with a lot of jets and helicopters coming and going.

As you can see below I touched more than one. It took half a roll of paper towels just to clean up my mustache.

This was just the first plate. I didn't finish the onion as it was really hot.
The Air Base, as it's called locally, is still in a frenzy of BP Oil Disaster with the coming and going of people observing at tax payer expense. Few if any are here to do anything.
This time I'm told the celebrity is the Secretary of Homeland Security. Maybe the good secretary is here to see if BP is a terrorist organization.

These Coast Guardies were here for the crawfish both are young enough to be my grandson. They were really nice guys humoring that old fool with the camera.

I didn't hang around long as there was just too much security, too many big cars with blacked out windows and armed men. Did I mention that it was "drench with sweat" hot?

The following is how it is in layman's terms. Right clicking and watching on you tube recommended.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Back The Saddle Again

It's been 16 days since I rode last and now I have run out of excuses. It was time to go. Anxious, yes. Fearful, some of that too I guess but once started it really felt good. I can't say I was relaxed once I got to where the blind brainless car drivers roam. In fact I may be a little over cautious. I found myself stopping and waiting when the groups of dueling cars got thick. It made the going a little slower but I believe in slower.

I must have passed this boat sitting off in the bushes a hundred times but I just notice it today. Just sitting back there rotting away.

I'm still learning to do video and this is not very good. Too shaky partly do to me and partly do to all the crap on the road. It is frequently my destination. The bell you hear is my bike bell that I usually have secured so that it doesn't ring all the time but while riding and holding the camera I ran out of hands.

The old fool is really concentrating here but it's not what you think.

It's in flight refueling. Mac's Spicy Cracklin Curls Mmmm good. I can't seem to stop myself from eating dead pigs.  Yes, I know its bad for me and in the long run the pig will get even.

Mom, look what followed me home. Can I keep it. After bringing home saddle bags full of essentials I went back for this. It's a Free Spirit "Sheffield" with a 3-speed Sturmy Archer hub and it's only missing a seat. It has a cartridge bottom bracket and cottered cranks but I can deal with that. It's not in bad shape for a bike that's probably more than 35 years old. Looks like it was bought, put in the barn and left to rot. If that S/A 3-speed is in good shape I may fit it to my Schwinn.  I don't know yet if it has a coaster brake as well.  Wouldn't that be nice.  The price was right as in free.
I just love my cargo bike. It is so versatile.  It has caused some deterioration in my load planning in that now I just pile it on until I run out of money or get tired.

This just in.  SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) just called me out to see these two gentlemen.  I have never seen sheriff deputies on bikes here before in fact I was not even aware that the sheriffs department even had them. 

I usually don't see the arrival of cops as a good thing because they carry a lot of things that kill but at least I now know that the government is aware that bicycles exist as something besides a toy.  They didn't Taz' me they were just showing a presence in the neighborhood. Odin knows we need that.
I think these guy were a little embarrassed at my enthusiasm.